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I think that the article's title with the word "again" at the end would depict the issue more precisely.
As I have written on numerous occasions in TE blogs - Natura vacuum abhorret, nature hates void.
Perhaps th Pew Research study demonstrates that Europe's west societies are starting to (instinctively) realize that Europe as an entity distinct from Asia (that is in Herodot's meaning) may only survive if it is able to renew itself, to come back to its roots.
There are, traditionally, three pillars of Europe: Rome, Athens and Jerusalem. Rome stands for the rule of law, Athens for aesthetic canons, Jerusalem for religion. Gradual getting rid of the latter root following the Enlightenment was fine until Western Civilization's achievements led to the globalization and subsequently to the rise of two phenomena, which serve as "nature's" factor which fills the void:
1. Powers able to compete with Europe, in an economic and subsequently cultural manner, while declining to accept the Enlightenment, especially regarding the separation of state and religion/atheism.
2. Socio-technological phenomena such as mass migration of Enlightenment-mentality-free peoples from beyond Europe, who in large part decline to accept the very modus vivendi of the continent.
Of course a major come-back of Europeanism understood as it first evolved - as res publica christiana - is unimaginable, nonetheless it seems that we are witnessing a start of the process of realization that Europe needs some "glue", a strong cultural link based on its fundament, which is of course Christianity. Erasmus well notes that it does not mean that such attitude must be a religious position at all.
Interestingly, according to the previous study of Pew Research, devoted to central Europe and Europe's east, in the latter region a similar process is taking place as in Europe's west: a post-state-atheism religious void is being re-filled with a new wave of Orthodox Christianity. While in central Europe, mostly in Poland and Hungary, which retained a Catholic identity during the Soviet-Russia-imposed communist era, there's no such upsurge.
Yawn . Yet another vacuous article on religion in Erasmus. I would have thought that the results of this survey would have been obvious to any that have some interest in religion. Maybe they should write Erasmus only when there is something to say. But what is interesting is that in Erasmus, readers are still allowed to blog ( most other articles of relevance there is no blogging section) - as if TE admits that from such banal articles only banal blogs in reply are possible. Thank goodness political correctness can be preserved!
"The Russian prosecutor regularly slaps criminal charges on bloggers for “offending the feelings of the faithful”. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church practically campaigns for Mr Putin’s re-election. The state protects religious activists and attacks artists who challenge the church. The church, in return, has become a guardian of state ideology."
Another reason to love Russia.
"Whereas the number of people who identify themselves as Orthodox Christians has doubled since 1991 to 71%, ..."
"there are many issues where Christians, Muslims and other people of faith come down on one side, and secularists on the other." TE comment.
I used the term PC in reference to the fact that TE will bend over backwards to prove that Islam is not inimical to the values of the West. Of course all the Abrahamic religions believe in ( the same ) God controlling things from above but this has never stopped them from trying to tear each other to pieces. I think it was the Roman Catholics that caused the beginning of the end of the Greek Orthodox Byzantium Empire (the pillage by them of Constantinople) and their refusal to help them against the Islamic attacks..
Like the loathing of the Muslim Shiites for the Sunnis so the loathing of the Greek/Russian Orthodox for the Catholics is very deep indeed. This betrayal has never been really forgotten.
Of course that Putin is so close to the Russian Orthodox church does not bode well for his relations with the West.
"But for some of the ordinary folk who take part in opinion surveys, describing oneself as Christian seems to be a way of saying, “I identify with Europe’s historic culture rather than any of the ones who have flourished in our countries more recently...” That is not necessarily a religious position at all."
That may be untangling the knot more than is realistically possible.
Re ".... That is not necessarily a religious position at all."
One could say "That much is transparent".
Remove "religion" from these folks*, they would have nothing left. Zero. Zilch. Religion is the core of their self-identity. The sum total of their existential worth, as they see it. That's why they fight tooth and nail to retain that identity. Meantime, what the religious tenets teach them to do vis-a-vis other people or peoples is a giant blur, even as they'd regurgitate the Holy Book backward frontward and sideward to prove they are "devout". It is very sad. Very very sad.
* Not all Christians take this approach to their faith. Only the ones who do do.
I'm not sure about the significance of the Pew Research analysis, but "Christianity still matters to a plurality of west Europeans", yes, and please consider that it greatly matters to eastern Europeans, too... Just a simple remark.
With all respect, Orthodox Christians are based not only in Russia. I would recommend to The Economist to share with its large audience information about other countries, too, having embraced the Orthodox Christian system of values and beliefs. The Cyrillic alphabet is also a good point of reference in that respect.
Not mentioned is the relative age of the different groups. I expect (and hope) that the average age of those who consider themselves Christian is significantly higher than that of the secularists.
Similarly, I bet the secular have the highest educational status.
Religiosity is expressed in different forms today. You do not need to go to the divine service on Sundays. The society transforms to more individualistic form and the religious believe is not excluded from that. So everybody has his own form to cope with his believe. The more the people are higher educated the more they turn away from the religious believer. Christianity is the ground Europe is built on. It is expressed in the culture and in the social structure of every local community.
Certainly the caption picture speaks a thousand words. And thanks for some interesting stats, Erasmus. As usual, both fitting of an excellent blog.
Two of my social circle are very vocal and active Tinder devotees. However they see themselves as devote Christians and never miss Sunday service. Far be it from an atheist to judge but could it be that identifying oneself as 'Christian' in our liberal age is more a social or cultural, rather than a religious, sense of belonging.
"Indeed the survey shows that non-practising Christians (defined...as people who identify as Christians but attend church services no more than a few times a year) make up the biggest share of the population across the region. "
The practice of attending religious services every single week is more recent than you think. Probably most Christians of the middle ages would have met the definition of "non-practicing Christians" asserted.
The minimum requirement in Catholicism is the "Easter Duty," taking communion at least once during the Easter season.
FYI... we (Catholics) are obliged to attend Sunday Mass (or Saturday Vigil Mass) weekly and Holy Days of Obligation.